Wide Awake! finds Parquet Courts at their most accessible, both in terms of its almost cartoonish reframing of their post-punk/art-rock sound and the forthright nature of its lyrical approach. The idea of reacting to our tumultuous social and political landscape has long been passed to acts far removed from the rockist modes once associated with rebellion through art. A consensus has been reached; to meaningfully respond to a modern problem, the expectation is to employ a correspondingly modern sound.
Over 5 LPs, Parquet Courts have been kicking against this notion and more effectively than ever, the quartet are once again unpacking the specific horrors of The Now. With tracks like Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience and Normalization, an impassioned Andrew Savage wrestles with issues of action and lack thereof within a society changing for the worse. On Wide Awake! coy lyrical obfuscation is reserved for introspection as displayed on co-frontman Austin Brown’s honey-dripper, Mardi Gras Beads and psych dirge Death Will Bring Change.
Lyrical potency aside, Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton’s production imbues the record with a truly exciting sense of sonic unpredictability. His studio mastery allows the band to insert downright peculiar musical asides without any sounding remotely out of place. Provocative and genuinely subversive in both its content and presentation – Wide Awake! is just as fun as it is vital.
Words – Danny Wilson
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